What kind of teenager were you? Sulky, smoking a stolen Silk Cut in Champion tracksuit bottoms and Travel Fox trainers? Moody Goth *married* to that guy from The Cure or just so sophisticated in that ruched lycra stuff and some kind of 16-year-old take on a power jacket? Maybe all three. But, presumably, you aren’t that person anymore. In fact you are probably a completely different person. Unrecognisable. This is according to the longest personality study of all time, published in Psychology and Aging, as seen in Quartz. The study suggests that over the course of a lifetime, just as your physical appearance changes (“what the f*** are those? Did I always look like this?”), your personality is also transformed beyond recognition. By the time we are in our 70s (in many, many, many years) we will be totally different people from who we are today. Again.
Back in 1950, a set of 14-year-old volunteers were quizzed on six questionnaire items, each addressing their Self-confidence, Perseverance, Stability of Moods, Conscientiousness, Originality and Desire to Learn.
Skip to 2012 and those same teens are 77. They were asked to fill in the same questionnaire. And journalist Christian Jarrett says, “to the researchers’ surprise they found there was no relationship between the ratings the participants received when they were aged 14 and the ratings they gave themselves at age 77.” None at all.
So you are going to change. And change again. Midults often feel like different people daily, monthly, minutely. And as we get older the inconsistency will continue. Far from a calcification, it’s an ever-shifting evolution. Counter-intuitive but…